Her birthday was actually yesterday, May 31, but when I realized it, my mind and soul went cartwheeling back in time, especially to the long sequence of events that led to her final attempt at suicide…the ‘successful’ one that actually allowed her to be…dead. I wrote about it perhaps a decade ago, and parked a copy here. It’s rather long, and as titled, ‘Not a Bedtime Story’. Mr. wd and I somehow got to calling her ‘Lady’ over the years, and while I can’t remember exactly why, it may have had something to do with the fact that when she was slightly (ahem) inebriated, she’d sort of put on the posh airs of to the Manor Born sort. It always simply slayed me and made me laugh.
How odd is it that I can’t remember when she was born or when she died? She may have died in 1974, she was 49; my father died of his fourth heart attack swimming in the Atlantic ocean somewhere…at 47, just as he’d filed divorce papers.
We’ve also been very busy with what seems to be the beginning of Mr. wd’s 98-year-old father transitioning toward death. We both believe that fear of death is the main reason he’s still alive, and when he was more compos mentis, he’d stop at nothing to stave off dying, but all of that is a very long story, and likely boring to others. The main thing I’ll say about it is that he was a virtual slave to his medical practitioners, especially the crap GP he wouldn’t bail on…because he was a member of his church. As his mind began to fail rapidly recently, his three children seemed to have slightly different opinions as to What to Do About It, (or not do) naturally.
Fortuitously, Mr. wd had taken the opportunity to speak with him about his own feelings about dying when his mind seemed more rational, and the fact that his meditations centered around…not fearing it. He reckoned that it might allow his father to open up about it, although he didn’t, but at least he may have heard it. But in any event, one nurse where he’s living blessedly mentioned the idea that the family would need to decide whether to try and ‘fix him’, or just…’let him go’. Over the past few days, the staff has reported that he’s been odd in his behaviors, including maintaining that he can see his dead wife, whom he believes to be in heaven. Is he transitioning? I certainly hope so, as does Mr. wd. When I say my apatheistic prayers at night as I waft sweet grass smoke around various family and friends, to him I chant: ‘Let go, Old Man; it’s okay’.
When I took a break from blogging not too long ago, aside from taking more time for meditation in hopes that I’d grow more adept at it, I spent some time searching online for folks in my past to whom I’d wanted to make amends. One man I really only found due to my finding an obit for his son, oh, my. It turned out that he’d committed suicide four years ago, and it’s changed my friend B’s life forever; small wonder. We’ve been emailing back and forth, and it was he who’d introduced me to the term/concept ‘transitioning’.
Now we’ve all heard people use phrases like ‘crossed over’, ‘passed on’, etc., but the long journey B has been on (and to a lesser extent, his wife and daughter) has proven to him that their son is indeed still himself, but in another place altogether, and he can communicate with them in various ways, through dreams and more recently through what one might call ‘mediums’, or those who facilitate communication with those who’ve ‘transitioned’. I’m agnostic on the subject, but I will say that I’ve had bright flashes of my father now and then, and I do speak to him, as silly as it sounds. He’d rather magnificently disowned me at one point, but had relented when he and my mum needed me to care for them off and on for a few years. It always meant schlepping to San José for some indeterminate time, in that parent/child role reversal many of us know only too well: life interrupted, or Lennon’s ‘Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans’.
Please allow me to present some of meandering thoughts and questions in a rather stream-of-consciousness (as if that’s a switch) fashion; I find they refuse to be tamed into any coherent linear form.
First: did you know that in many states (like Colorado) suicide was a felony crime? My mum was chained to a bed in the jail part of Denver General after one failed attempt, for crissake. If I get what the Wiki says, none do any longer. At least two states have passed ‘Death with Dignity’ Laws, but the criteria are odiously rigorous, and all involve doctors. Pffft. Oddly, I’ve read that suicides have actually decreased in those states since the laws were enacted; what’s up with that? By my lights, anyone over 21 ought to be able to choose the manner and time of their death, and the easy way by Seconal or some such drug, not the messy hard ways most often available. Perhaps in the manner of Life Alert chains, a Death by Design product on a lanyard, yanno?
But here are a few questions to consider: are you afraid of death, or if not, is it more aspirational than certain? Do you believe in an afterlife? If so, in what form? When I was young, I used to believe that what we believed regarding an afterlife…might just be what we’d experience. It still seems plausible to me.
Do you believe that suicide is a sin, as many religious people do (or is it just Christians who do)? Ooof; I just remembered a man at Firedoglake’s readers community who said that he was certain that he’d been reincarnated something like 112 times; beats me, that’s for sure.
Have you nursed or given succor to a dying friend or relative? How did that go (for lack of a better term)? I’ll admit that when Mr. wd and I’d discussed having his ALZ mother here, I warned him that I might just smother her w/ a pillow. Not.a.fan. to say the least…
If you read the Carlos Casteñeda series (whether or not you believe Don Juan was a fiction), you’ll likely remember that he advised that one always be aware that Death lived just behind one’s left shoulder, and that that simple understanding would cause us to live life as impeccable warriors. It’s a sincerely hard thing for me to remember, as in: do I want to be doing this if this is my last moment in this iteration of my self? Yep, that can sharpen one’s focus, no?
As far as what’s next, Iris about nails it for me, and I’d include whether or not there is one gawd, or whatever:
And I love this righteous song by the incomparable Bruce Cockburn:
Also, I like this poem by Mary Oliver about death that features the White Owl as pictured above. ;-)
As death came this year for the late great John Trudell, he said: ” “My ride showed up. Celebrate Love. Celebrate Life.” Yes!